The Canadian Cancer Society, BC and Yukon, is calling for a ban on flavoured tobacco products in BC after a new poll showed overwhelming support from British Columbians.
The Angus Reid poll revealed that 81 per cent of BC teens between 15 and 18 years of age agree that the BC government should adopt legislation to ban all tobacco products with fruit and candy flavours as a measure to reduce tobacco use among youth. In addition, 74 per cent of British Columbians over the age of 18 support a ban. The survey of more than 1,100 teens and adults was conducted in December.
“These numbers speak loud and clear: British Columbians want a ban in BC on flavoured tobacco products,” says Kathryn Seely, Director, Public Issues, Canadian Cancer Society, BC and Yukon. “We are urging the BC government to protect children from the predatory marketing practices of the tobacco industry and the products which, through their packaging and appearance, are aggressively targeted to youth. It’s time, now during National Non-Smoking Week, to commit to a ban.”
In Canada, many types of tobacco products are heavily flavoured, including cigarillos (little cigars), water pipe tobacco, smokeless tobacco and menthol cigarettes. Flavours include chocolate, mint, cherry, peach, strawberry, and other fruit and candy flavours that are appealing to youth. These flavours reduce the harsh effects of cigarette smoke, making it easier for youth who may be experimenting with smoking to become addicted to tobacco.
A national Youth Smoking Survey released last fall by the Propel Centre for Population Health Impact at the University of Waterloo found more than half (53 per cent) of youth tobacco users in BC had used flavoured tobacco products. This equates to approximately 30,500 BC students.
“This is a real issue in BC and we can make an equally real impact by implementing a ban,” explains Seely. “We believe the BC government has made great strides to help reduce smoking rates in our province but we need to do more and be leaders in protecting youth from these deceptive products.”
Smoking rates in British Columbia are the lowest in the country at 13 per cent. However, Tobacco use is still the leading cause of death and disease in BC, killing more than 6,000 British Columbians each year. Second-hand smoke is linked to the death of more than 100 British Columbians each year. In total, tobacco use costs the BC economy $2.3 billion annually.
The majority of new tobacco users are under the age of 18. Tobacco has no safe level of consumption, is highly addictive and is the only legal product that kills when used exactly as intended by its manufacturers. One-half of long-term regular smokers will die because of their smoking.
The Canadian Cancer Society is a national, community-based organization of volunteers whose mission is to eradicate cancer and enhance the quality of life of people living with cancer. For more information, visit cancer.ca or call our toll-free bilingual Cancer Information Service at 1-888-939-3333 (TTY 1-866-786-3934).